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Required Courses

Courses required for admission vary significantly from one institution to another. The following courses are mentioned frequently as being required and/or recommended by PT programs, according to the 2017-2018 PTCAS Course Prerequisites Summary. Percentages refer to PTCAS-participating programs.

  • Anatomy and physiology: 97% require at least one course in anatomy, physiology, anatomy & physiology I (A&P I), or anatomy & physiology II (A&P II).
  • Biology: 89% require one or more courses in biology or biological science.
  • Chemistry: 98% require one or more courses in chemistry.
  • Physics: 98% require one or more courses in physics.
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences: 93% require one or more courses in psychology or social/behavioral science.
  • Statistics: 95% require a course in statistics.

Other courses may also be required/ recommended by PT programs. For information on specific physical therapy programs' requirements, see the 2017-2018 PTCAS Course Prerequisites Summary.

Some courses may not be available at Northwestern University and may have to be taken elsewhere. We encourage you to meet with a health professions advisor to discuss PT programs and course requirements.

Choosing a Major

Physical therapy students come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds. Applicants are not required to major in "pre-physical therapy" or any other specific major in college to be eligible for admission to a PT program.  However, because PT programs vary so much in required coursework, students should begin researching possible programs early to determine if their choice of major will fulfill all or most of the PT program requirements.